A Cultural Shock!

Indians are one of the hard-working individuals in the world. We obviously rant about our bosses on Sunday beer-chill catch ups but head to our offices on Monday as if this was our ultimate goal in life.

Ah! I happened to talk to some Europeans, and they were amazed when they learnt that we sometimes work over 40 hours a week!

“That is way too much, madam! How do you even manage to do that?” expressed one. 

It was a cultural shock for him. And for me, too! Because they are accustomed to work as little as 30 hours a week. They get themselves a week or two off every 2 months. Even if they have loads of work, they require off time. 

Moreover, each firm has prevention advisors. Along with implementing loss prevention techniques and training security personnels, they are required to look after the mental wellbeing of employees. Making sure that work is not stressing them is one of their prime duties.

The last I remember somebody cared about my stress levels was 2 years back when my mother used to see me sweating over my exams. I hardly recall when it was the last time my team leader called me and said you don’t have to prioritize the targets over your health. 

Receiving work calls at odd hours and being extra-nice to customers is something we all are now accustomed to. Particularly because the private sector is like that, or is it a notion?

“Get a government job beta, you’ll have a stable life.” I have heard this from my relatives. At some point, even I was wondering if I should prepare for those exams so I can get a tranquil life. 

Ha! Because government clerks are known to take their own sweet time fulfilling tasks. 

It is not about Government versus Private or India versus World. It is more about having a balanced out life and working according to the capabilities. Even though India is a developing country, I still feel we lack some basic professional etiquettes. 

Only if they taught how to work your way around life in schools and colleges….

What are your views? 

Stuck in the Elevator

It all started with that stupid project . Presenting a project with a stringent deadline is a bad idea.  A disaster management project with a deadline of two days is a disaster itself . I was together with her in it, just like Adam and Eve, a pair completely unaware of surroundings not to mention one with snakes . It was six in the evening , the loutish professors had left, school was completely silent . It took only few minutes to turn to eerie . A non seasonal rain started to pour , the weather was ominous. Another round of labor and copying fused with her constant plea to God for ending work and my constant sarcasm finally finished a chunk of work we had to share , the last column in to do list was fetch a couple of guide books from library on fourth floor . The only fair means to decide was stone paper scissors ,my luck favored me . She sulkily went , cursing me and her luck which was about to get worse. She climbed staircase step by step, as she went away, I thought about us rather than I and her. Were we supposed to be a couple, I was a short, thick rimmed glasses wearing , nerd and she was cute , bubbly, innocent girl. There was no match between cupcakes and black pepper . In moment of loneliness I texted her.

I –  Did you get them .

She – Package procured.

I – Cadet you have got nothing more than a couple of minutes to return

She – Dude , I’m on fourth floor, shortest way down is jumping right from the balcony.

I – Get down quickly.

She – I’ll use the staff elevator.

I –  Do it at your own risk .

She – Got it.

So now I was expecting her arrival but she didn’t appear , I checked the ping on my phone

She had texted me , the elevator had stuck.

I – congratulations

She – Get here quick , I’m claustrophobic.

I- On my way , btw which floor any idea.

She – third 

I – I wish you said first.

She – Move it , before I cry.

I – Press emergency button

She – I tried everything, stupid.

I – I’m almost there where is elevator supposed to be 

She – Adjacent to the washroom near CS lab

I – Do you hear the thud on door

She – Is that you 

I – Its supposed to be chairman’ s ghost.

She – your really stupid

I – heard that quite few times frankly

She – Get me out .

I – ya , once I get angry enough I’ll turn green and tear the door

She – you could just have referred superman rather than hulk

I – on a serious note , should I call cops 

She – go call watchman

I – Ms. Claustrophobic, you interested in sending me away forever

She – Dont go, don’t go pls

I – lets wait till electricity comes back and lift restarts

She – I got a better idea 

I – No we’re not playing truth and dare.

She – forget it

I – I should forget you maybe

She – if I die you ‘ll be haunted for rest of your life

I – girls never let me go , always sticking by me , even in afterlife

She – look dude, do something I’m getting uncomfortable

I – like what 

She – wait I heard something hitting the roof

I – is it the chairman’s ghost

She – I’m serious, I have started to sob

I – look , don’t worry

She – it’s trying to get in .

I- the metal is too thick.

She- I’ll die ,you go 

I – look if you’re about to die , let me confess something , I love you

She – it’s no time for a joke

I – believe me , I have loved you since the day I saw you

She – stop lying

I – you gotta believe me

She – are you serious

I- damn yes

I- first day when you sat with your friends, wearing a purple hairband . I sat parallel to you.

You never noticed me staring you . I got lost in your beauty. You were incomparable to any beauty I had ever known.

She – you still remember, tell me more

I – before exams when we were first introduced , you helped me with chemistry and I solved few of your maths sums. I did that so , we could have an interaction. First time in life , I felt shy.

She – How many more moments have you kept alive in your heart.

I – almost all.

She – they give me hope share some more.

I- I lost my heart again to you on trip , seeing you open haired and jubilant. Before that I might had a chance of  exit , but now there wasn’t one . The specks of earthy gold sliding across your hair and that scenery, I still live that moment again and again.

She – why did you never confess it earlier

I- I knew you had a crush on someone else

She – so

I – why did you not confess

She – same reason, it’s no use now , I have been locked here for like an hour now.

I – I m not going even if it’s one lifetime.

Suddenly lights switched on , elevators door opened in slow motion  . She came out having marks of tears rolling down her cheeks and hugged me and said we would never part our ways. I separated her from me and told her it was nothing more than a psychological trick to deviate her attention, I meant nothing of it and typing made it more easy  , no facial expressions, no emotions. She cleared her throat and thanked me , we left premises and I dropped her at her residence, we bid farewell.

I could never stand up to my real emotions , masking them with insecurities and hiding insecurities with false confidence. I have no rational explanation for this , these are the moments when line between fiction and reality blurs 

Night Owl Diner

It’s the usual night in the city, dogs howling and whimpering because of cold, hunger, maybe loneliness, who knows maybe boredom. Cruising across these lonely streets was a beat cop, driving his issued station wagon. The night was cold and still, anyone and everyone who had a roof was deep in slumber. For the officer, it was his usual shift, along with his usual sorrows. An ageing career that hardly saw any peaks of success followed by a weak pension, not enough for his medical bills. The wagon passed by stores, closed at the midnight hours, these joints bustling with run of the mill consumers shelling bucks right, left and centre at anything advertised. Officer liked it old school, bucks for needs and dreams for wants. At this point, the officer felt the need for a cup of warm coffee. He remembered a nice cosy late-night diner on his route. He liked diners, they were as old school as it gets. He had never been to this diner for as long as he could remember. By the time, he processed this information, his wagon stood in front of the diner. The old rusty board read “Night Owl Diner”, written in bright red colour with a little owl painted next to it. The board had been through many rains, it was tough to distinguish between the rust and paint. He pushed the door ajar, to enter the place. As he stepped into the diner, the wafting fragrance of coffee and tear-jerking nostalgia hit him. He politely greeted the owner, who stood behind a vintage metallic counter, wrapped in a white apron. The owner asked him,” What can I get you, officer”. The officer replied,” A nice cup of Coffee”. The owner asked, ” would you fancy something accompanying your coffee, perhaps some sweet confectionary item”. The officer thought for a moment and said, ” Add two doughnuts with the coffee”. The owner replied very well and turned towards the retro coffee maker. Officer glanced all around him and saw the pleasant antiquated decor. The decor, complete with a row of bar stools, adjacent to the rexine padded parlour sofa seats facing each other. As he turned towards his server, a smoking cup of coffee along with two chocolate-dipped doughnuts lay in his wait. He did like the look of his meal even though he knew cops get mocked for having doughnuts, he did appreciate the high on sugar and cholesterol dessert once in a while. While having these satisfying edibles, he stroked a conversation with the owner. Carefully wiping the corners of his mouth he asked,” How’s the business going?”. The owner replied briefly,” It’s going mild, I used to have a stampede back in the day”. The officer further asked in a casual way, ” you must have seen quite a few first dates right here, lads and missiles, all prim and prom trying to woo each other”. The owner said,” Sure”, while the Officer continued,” You see I met my missus in one such fine diner, 23 years back”. The owner spoke in reply, ” I’m sure some couples can claim the same for my joint”, while the officer nodded in acceptance. After taking another sip and a bite, the officer asked, ” the black and white photos on the wall, did the Hollywood folk actually dined at your establishment?” The owner proudly replied,” Back in the heyday, every one of them came here after the shoots”. The owner now inquired, ” you solving some case at this hour, inspector”. Officer answered with slight hesitation,” pal, beat cops don’t catch criminals, we catch colds and misery”. The officer sat slouching, enjoying a warm mug and chocolate-coated loaf, he turned his head around and something irked him. He saw a big wooden door, varnished black as the devil itself. The door did not match the joints appearance, it felt jarring and incoherent with the nostalgic tone. He asked the owner, ” Pal, whys there this ugly door here”. The owner said,” Nothing officer, just the restroom”. The officer frowned and said,” Is it open, I’d like to use the restroom”. The owner swiftly brushed the question aside, “It’s clogged and jammed, officer”. Officer got irritated and said, ” Pal, open the door, I’ll see for myself what’s in there and maybe do you a favour by plumbing it”. The owner answered back, ” office, would you be kind enough to unlock it yourself while I wash the plates here”. Officer mumbled sure and picked the keys, the owner placed on the counter. The officer stood, turned and marched towards the door, carelessly. A loud crack was heard and a shotgun shell had entered officer’s skull, obliterating its backside completely open. The owner stood behind the counter with a shotgun smoking just like a hot cup of coffee. He pressed a button just below his side of the counter and two men dressed in black came out of the hideous, almost ominous door and dragged the corpse inside. While the owner moved towards the bloody mess with a mop and bucket. Now what was behind the door, my guess is as good as anyone else. Drug den, the lair of evil, exquisite yet illegal club or the inferno hell itself, nobody knows. Just as this happened, dogs outside the diner were howling and whimpering, because of cold, hunger, maybe loneliness, who knows maybe they had witnessed something.